Air Commodore Sir Ronald Ivelaw-Chapman was one of the few people who knew the details of the upcoming D-Day invasion in Normandy when he was shot down over France by the Nazis during World War II.
British leader Winston Churchill issued orders for the French Resistance to rescue and keep Ivelaw-Chapman safe at all costs. But if there was any chance that he might fall into the hands of the Third Reich, he was to be assassinated rather than risk having the Germans learn of the Allies’ plans.
But when Ivelaw-Chapman’s minder was killed, he was indeed captured by the Germans and handed over to the Gestapo to be tortured.
Formerly classified documents have been released which show that Churchill needn’t have been so concerned. Ivelaw-Chapman did not reveal anything to his captors.
According to the records, even though men of his rank rarely flew on operations missions, Ivelaw-Chapman insisted on flying with his crew during a May 1944 air strike against a large German ammunition dump at Aubigne Racan.
On the return flight, his plane was engaged by an enemy fighter pilot and the plane crashed in France, Churchill couldn’t take the risk of him breaking under torture.
Ivelaw-Chapman and Sergeant Joe Ford survived the crash and were hidden in a farmhouse. They were somehow betrayed which led to the death of the French minder and to Ivelaw-Chapman’s interrogation by the Gestapo at their Chambray headquarters.
Ivelaw-Chapman refused to tell the Gestapo anything other than his name, rank and serial number. He recalled being slapped, beaten with a rubber whip and other torture methods for approximately twelve hours. After being beaten, he was placed in an unventilated dungeon in the Gestapo headquarters in Tours with his hands cuffed behind his back. This was particularly painful as his shoulder was dislocated.
The Germans finally sent him to a prisoner-of-war camp after he convinced them he was just a regular airman with no special information.
Ivelaw-Chapman survived the war and retired from the RAF as the vice chief of the Air Staff in 1953. He then became a civil servant working with the Ministry of Defense Research Staff and later with the Directing Staff of the Imperial Defense College. He passed away in 1978.
He had been born in British Guinea in 1899. His father was a self-made successful merchant. In 1903 his family moved to Britain.
At the age of 18, he enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps. He flew during World War I and received the Distinguished Flying Cross and was promoted to Acting Captain.
Near the beginning of WWII, Ivelaw-Chapman was promoted to Acting Group Captain and he became station commander of the Linton-on-Ouse No 4 Bomber Group. At the time of his capture, he was the commander of the Elsham Wolds bomber base in North Lincolnshire.
Another Article From Us: Map Plots 30,000 Luftwaffe Air Raids on The UK During WW2
He was heavily involved in intelligence and planning work, including the Operation Overlord (the codename for the D-Day landings) and had worked on the plans for two-and-a-half years before his capture. He was one of very few people to know the dates and locations of the landings.